Sunday, July 22, 2012

How my students got me to stop giving out detention

I like to handle discipline issues myself if possible.  My consequence of choice is lunch detention.  Honestly, it's just easy for me.  Staying after school for an hour trying to keep them quiet is probably more of a punishment for me than it is for them.

So lunch detention it is.  I hold it twice a week.  They buy their lunch and then they sit silently in my room for 25 minutes or so while I do work at my desk.  Usually it works great.

Two years ago I had a very difficult group of kids.  They didn't do homework.  They didn't behave.  They talked and argued and fought and threw stuff all period.  They made me cry (I would wait until they left) on more than one occasion.  These were the kids that everyone had heard about.  They raised terror for 6th and 7th grade.  Needless to say, they spent a lot of lunch periods in my room. 


One day about halfway through the year I'm telling some kid to be quiet because there is no talking during lunch detention and some other kid says to him, "What are you doing here? You don't even have lunch detention today."  I checked my detention sheet and he was right.  I just had to laugh.  The kid said he was there because everyone else from his table was coming so he just figured he'd come too.

It turns out the kids had started to enjoy having lunch in my room.  

Clearly giving lunch detention as a punishment had lost its effectiveness.  But what I had was even better.  They wanted to be there so I turned it into an incentive for being good.  If they started to cross the line during class all I would have to do was quietly tell them they wouldn't be able to come for lunch the next day and they would stop.

We had a deal: lunch became their time and class became my time.  During lunch we would talk about whatever they want.  I got all the good gossip.  We talked about weekends and families and girlfriends and all the other crazy drama they had going on.  I would make fun of the weird things they would eat everyday (seriously, who puts mayo on pizza?!) During class they got their work done and listened to me.

Their lunch period was one of my prep periods.  I certainly didn't have to spend it with kids, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world.

It definitely gave me a new outlook on things.  I learned that we should never label (even in our own head) a kid as the "bad kid" because you never know who they could turn out to be if you get through to them.

The kids that drove me to tears turned out to be the most special group of kids I've ever.  At the end of the year one of those kids actually told me that lunch was one of the only reasons he came to school everyday.  Stuff like that is what makes is all worth it.

9 comments:

  1. Hi Sarah!
    I just discovered your blog via pinterest and I am OBSESSED! I seriously just read every post you have. I am loving all of your posts-- your classroom seems amazing! In the past three years I have taught middle school math, science and social studies. Math is my first love and I just got a new job teaching 6th grade math. I desperately want to start ISNs this year! Thank you so much for all of the info and insight. Your blog is #1 on my must read list :)

    ☼ Kate
    To The Square Inch

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    1. No way!! I have been reading your blog all year and it is seriously my FAVORITE!!! You do such fabulous stuff and I have to say that I absolutely share your love of fun fonts :)

      I started using ISNs last year and had a tough time last summer finding exactly how people were using them, so I'm going to try to post anything at all I can think of. If there's anything at all that you have questions on please don't hesitate to ask or send me an e-mail.

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    2. Stop it! I can't even believe it!! Best. Day. Ever!!! No but seriously, I am so mad I am just finding your blog now :) Quick question about your ISNs. Do the kids take them home or store them in class? I assume not everything they do in class and for homework go in the ISN, so do the kids have binders or notebooks for class as well?

      ☼ Kate
      To The Square Inch

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    3. Best day ever for sure. Haha I really only made this public like 4 days ago so you are certainly not late to the game at all. They keep their ISNs with them at all times but you're right, I definitely don't put everything into it. I actually wrote all about that for tomorrow's post to explain my thoughts more in depth but the main idea is that "important" things go into the ISN and other stuff goes into a three ring binder (or I'm ok with them using a section in another binder). I don't ever check the binders and they can clean them out after each unit. Most homework, do nows and investigations all go in there.

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  2. That's so awesome. They must really enjoy spending time with you. :)

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  3. Sarah I'm so glad to see your blog taking off - I see you all over pinterest now!! I love reading how you do your interactive notebooks. If you don't have a twitter account you should get one! Twitter has been the best thing that I've done since becoming a teacher because its full of teachers who are passionate and love collaborating. Tweet me maybe?

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    1. Thanks! It's actually SO crazy to me that it's taking off...I thought for sure I'd be the only one ever reading this.

      I am interested in twitter but I have to say I don't have any idea where to start. Help me!! I have an account (Msrubinmath) but I don't know what to do next..it seems like everyone is has their own groups going on there and I'm just eavesdropping lol

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    2. I tweeted you! I would start by putting up a little mini intro, a picture, and then start following people. Some will follow you back and tweet you, sometimes you have to tweet them to get the conversations going. I can give you a little shout out on twitter if you let me. I'm really new there, only been on for about a month, but everyone is really welcoming and encouraging. They love meeting new people!

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